Skurrilum – Ghost Hunter Ernie Hudson and the Wailing Woman [Review]

Haunted

Location:  Hamburg, Germany

Date Played: May 11, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price:  from €120 per group for teams of 4 to €176 per group from teams of 8

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating:  [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We did it. We went to Hamburg to play the number one escape room in the world as voted by TERPECA 2018: Ghost Hunter Ernie Hudson and the Wailing Woman. In doing so, we completed all of the top 10 games on the TERPECA 2018 list.

In-game: an old dusty organ in a study, the walls are adorned with trophy skulls and taxidermy birds.

We did our best to control our hype and go in with the right mindset to maximize our enjoyment of the game. It was a fantastic escape room filled with many dramatic and unusual moments… but it fell short of our expectations.

Wailing Woman was showing too much wear. It seemed like there may have been some missing puzzles and story beats. We struggled with lighting issues. One moment should have been amazing, but collapsed under the weight of a translation error that sent us wildly off course.

The TERPECA 2018 voters played Wailing Woman in German, with a gamemaster essentially subtitling it. This has me wondering if the game felt fundamentally different under those circumstances. Additionally, I truly think that Wailing Woman suffered from the hype because part of the experience then became trying to understand why so many incredibly experienced players, designers, and owners were so wowed by this game.

The bottom line is that Wailing Woman was an incredible escape room… but it was made and maintained by humans. I highly recommend playing it, but go in expecting to play a great and inventive escape room, not “the world’s greatest escape room.”

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Many unusual and fantastical moments
  • Story-driven gameplay

Story

Ghost hunting celebrity Ernie Hudson was too busy to take on the case of the Wailing Woman so he’d sent us, his students, to investigate the case.

Were there real ghosts or were the disturbances caused by something more pedestrian? It was up to us to discern the truth.

In-game: the inside of Ernie Hudson's mobile home filled with his gadgets, degrees, and ugly print patterns on his couch.

Setting

Wailing Woman opened in a dark room, with a voice-over sequence setting the stage and establishing the story.

Once the lights turned up, Skurrilum sent us into Ernie’s mobile home to gather what we needed to begin investigating the reported paranormal disturbance.

In-game: The exterior of a beautiful old home that shows signs of disrepair.

Gameplay

Skurrilum’s Ghost Hunter Ernie Hudson and the Wailing Woman was a narrative-driven escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: A view from the entrance of Ernie Hudson's mobile home. His gear is visible on all sides.

Analysis

➕ Skurrilum told the story of our escape room through voice-over narration. As we played, we listened to a narrator explain our progress. This was an unusual and captivating storytelling style. Ernie was funny and engaging.

➕ Skurrilum built interesting sets for Wailing Woman. They were diverse, well designed, and well constructed.

➖ While the sets looked good, key props were showing too much wear.

➖ We encountered some frustrating puzzle design. In some cases we struggled to read in low light. In other instances, we struggled to internalize the story while solving the puzzle. More often then not, the puzzle content didn’t support the team size.

➕ In Wailing Woman, we conversed with the spirits, as any aspiring ghost hunters would. This lead to a fiery dialog.

➖ While we loved the effect of communicating with a ghost, in practice this didn’t work quite as well as it should have. We think that we ran into a minor English/ German mistranslation that had reverberating effects.

➕ There’s this nifty trick that we’ve only seen a few times in our escape room travels… and Skurrilum swapped it in. It’s always cool when this happens and it worked well with the story of this game.

➖ Despite the ghostly interactions, we felt more connected to Ernie Hudson than to the mission. We didn’t feel invested in the characters we were trying to help. We wished Ernie Hudson had made an audio appearance at the end because he was the most compelling character.

➖ The final act fell flat for us. Some of this was the translation error, but it also felt like something may have been missing. The conclusion felt abrupt.

➕ The ghosts were the stars of this escape room. They delivered the most impressive and entertaining moments in the experience.

Tips For Visiting

  • Minimum age is 14 years old
  • You must be able to climb up and down a few stairs.

Book your hour with Skurrilum’s Ghost Hunter Ernie Hudson and the Wailing Woman, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Skurrilum provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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